Engaging students in citizen science to advance NASA research on growing plants in space.
Growing Beyond Earth® (GBE) is a classroom-based citizen science project led by Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden that is designed to advance NASA research on growing plants in space. It includes a series of plant experiments conducted by students in a Fairchild-designed plant habitat similar to the Vegetable Production System (Veggie) on the International Space Station (ISS).
Growing Beyond Earth provides a uniquely effective mechanism for delivering NASA Science content, data, experiments, and expertise to middle and high school classrooms. Through GBE, teachers and students learn about NASA Science research and conduct complementary experiments using analog hardware that matches the capabilities of the Veggie habitat on ISS. The experiments, designed in coordination with NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD), include tests of new plant varieties and growing techniques. With experiments currently in progress in more than 400 middle and high schools across the country, GBE provides a steady stream of valuable data to NASA scientists who are developing technologies for growing food crops for long-duration missions into deep space. In the project’s seventh year, more than 40,000 middle and high school students and their teachers nationwide have contributed hundreds of thousands of data points and tested 180 varieties of edible plants for NASA.
The Growing Beyond Earth Project aims to put NASA Science plant research in the hands of students at underserved schools across the nation.
Towards this, our project objectives are to:
- Deliver SMD content to underserved students in all US states and territories;
- Provide high-quality multidisciplinary STEM educational opportunities that allow students to contribute to NASA plant research;
- Provide valuable plant growth data to NASA plant researchers;
- Integrate NASA Science Mission Experts as valuable resources for students into GBE education;
- Train teachers and students to use data collected in the classrooms;
- Provide opportunities for students to explore STEM careers in the Aerospace industry and
- Build a community of teacher ambassadors that will allow us to grow the program and expand its content.
These objectives are consistent with those of the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD).